Now with mobile technology, artificial intelligence, and connectivity, young people can connect and immerse themselves from anywhere on the Internet at any time or place.
In the face of all these advances, we wonder if it’s us who control technology, or if it’s a technology that controls us?
The use of social media has changed and more drastically from the world confinement of 2020. In that way, how is the relationship of young people with social networks?
Data available in April 2020 from the Global Digital Yearbook (Digital, 2020) shows that the use of social networks has increased because of the confinement due to COVID-19. This source shows that young people between 16 and 24 years old represent the highest percentage of users worldwide.
Faced with an attractive, addictive world, in constant reinvention and therefore unknown as the Internet and social networks are, we need to know how to immerse ourselves in them. So, we ask ourselves, are we, young people, prepared for these changes? Do we know how to analyze all the information? Are we critical of what we see on social media?
So here in this article, we share six facts, recommendations, and suggestions that will guide you as a young people, as a professional, as a teacher or as a parent to help to you or help to others young people to reflect not only on the understanding of information and the media but also on Internet privacy, hate speech, the impact on emotions, and fake news. In this way, we can be a little more prepared for the media changes and thus know how to use technology consciously.
The Internet is designed to be engaging and distracting, for some people the time that spends on social networks affects their personal life.
Maybe you have the feeling of not having enough time or the feeling of lack of concentration to do all the everyday tasks.
We know that we want to be connected all the time, but if you realize that you are being affected, just try to reduce time, at least one hour per day to not affect your personal life with you and with others.
2. Boots and Artificial Intelligence.
The technological advances have been huge. The existence of Artificial Intelligence and the use of robots for everything that we could imagine are big.
We cannot say that technology is just bad or good, but depends on the use that somebody or we make. For example, journalism development in the digital world has been growing with Artificial Intelligence, but on the other hand nowadays exist robots, cyborgs, trolls, sock puppets that steal identities, create fake profiles, and fake news.
There are different kinds of purposes to the theft of identities, like interests of political parties, extortion, and data sale, between others. Sometimes we can think that we have a “real” friend because on Facebook or profile Instagram has common friends, photographs with other people, and shows an active profile. But in reality, they are not the same person that they show, they are sometimes other people or simply are robots who work with automated publications and identity theft.
So we recommend just before adding or accepting someone, think and observe carefully.
3. Internet Security.
We are part of different apps every day like Tinder, TikTok, or Whatsapp, but the majority of the time we do not read about each term and use conditions of each app. And sometimes we do not control the information that we share, or who sees our posts in case we will be using a personal account.
In that way some recommendation that we share is to regularly change passwords, check what is public in your personal information, check what kind of content, photographs, and locations are open to all the public or only with a friend circle.
4. Fake news.
Fake news has always existed; the current difference is the way it spreads, you just need to share on the Internet, and the speed is so fast that it reaches thousands of people in seconds. Also, high technology makes fake news sometimes imperceptible, being more difficult to identify.
Exist erroneous information, that is false information, but that the person who sent it believes that it is true. Misinformation is false information, but the person sending it knows that it is false. Intentional lie manipulated for specific purposes. And bad information, that is information that is based on reality, used to inflict harm, harassment, or hate speech content.
Whatever it is: Erroneous information, Misinformation, or Bad information (Ireton, C., & Posetti, J., 2018, pp. 46) some of its goals are to propagate fear and panic.
So before being influenced, posting, liking, and sharing: think; question; analyze; check the author’s credentials; supporting sources and facts; and also, think if your emotions are being manipulated.
5. Conflicts and hate speech.
There are many types of hate speech that we see on social media. These hate speech comments create racism to cultural differences, to sexual diversity, to other religions, or different skin color; creates radicalization, intolerance, and produces the not acceptance of the other.
All this can create online violence or happy slapping that is the recording of a physical, verbal, or sexual assault on a person.
So if you see all of this even with friends and family members, do not reproduce them, do not retweet them, denounce, report, and stop following.
6. Impact of emotions.
Results about the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on youth shows that levels of discouragement, depression, loneliness, and tension are greater in younger ages than older age groups (Eurofound, May 2020).
Excessive use of social networks can aggravate an existing problem like family life, friendships, or relationship problems. Those can be manifested with: loneliness, isolation, being far from reality, sleeping problems, and the majority of the times affect self-esteem.
Having this type of problem, the person can be vulnerable to a different kind of online violence like Cyberbullying, Sexting, Online Grooming, Online Violence, and Happy Slapping that are new terms that are becoming more frequent in our day-to-day.
Cyberbullying is a form of harassment among minors, which consists of repetitive behaviors of harassment, intimidation, and social exclusion. Cyberstalking is to harass or frighten someone. Sexting is an online material exchange with sexual content, and it is considered violence when you do not have consent for who uses it. Online grooming is online sexual harassment and abuse.
So, ask yourself when you are using any social network: What emotions or feelings do they generate for you? If they are negative stop following them, the important thing is that they do not transgress you or others.
Like we mentioned before, technology is not bad, depends on the use that we do with it. We cannot just stop using it, stop to add more friends, or be part of more apps. We cannot prohibit the use of new technology to young people or anyone.
That’s why these six facts, recommendations, and suggestions will help you to be more conscious of the way we use technology. Will be new changes in the future, new challenges that we must face but at least here we must speak loud about what is going on.
We, the young are the present and future of digital societies.
Be part of the conscious digital changes, is to be a leader of your own. We are here to help you to be critical, conscious, pluralist, and resilient and play the role of becoming the true leader of your life.
AMARNA Academy Coordinator & Young People Mentor
Powered by AMARNA Vida’s team
Digital 2020. (2020, April). Global Digital Yearbook. Recovered from https://wearesocial.com/uk/blog/2020/07/digital-use-around-the-world-in-july-2020
Eurofound. (2020, May). Is history repeating itself? The impact of the COVID-19 crisis on youth. Eurofound. Recovered from https://www.eurofound.europa.eu/publications/blog/is-history-repeating-itself-the-impact-of-the-covid-19-crisis-on-youth
Ireton, C., & Posetti, J. (Eds.). (2018). Journalism, fake news & disinformation: a handbook for journalism education and training. Paris: UNESCO.